Hutchmoot Booklist


A few times during Hutchmoot I heard about books I wanted to track down but I didn’t have anything to write on. Now I can’t remember a single one. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I thought it would be helpful to start a list here. Some of these are available in the Rabbit Room Store, so check there before you go gallivanting over to Amazon or somesuch to spend your hard-earned money. We’ll put it to better use than they will.

A few people asked me about the following:

Walking on Water, by Madeline L’Engle

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

I also referenced in my George MacDonald talk the book The Sacred Journey, by Frederick Buechner.

Anyone else?

Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.


  1. Heather R

    It’s a source for RR relevent books rather than something specific, but has free downloadable audiobooks from works in the public domain. The site was mentioned several times in regards to finding works by George MacDonald.

  2. Dan Kulp

    John Ruskin – The King of the Golden River (mentioned by Pete; also on & now discovered, placed near the top of my listening list)

    Mark Helprin – Winter’s Tale

  3. RG

    I’m not sure if anyone mentioned it, but my all-time favorite novel about art and faith is Potok’s “My Name is Asher Lev.” I found this book 10 years ago in the pocket behind the passenger seat of the Peterson’s old conversion van, “Junior.” I know many of the Rabbit Room contributors have read it and I’d flip to see this community talk about it. I’m not sure I could even review it, its effect on me was so profound.

    It might actually be my all-time favorite book, period… if I had all-time favorites about things.

    Keep the book list coming – this was a great idea!

  4. Leanne

    There is a book I didn’t mention at Hutchmoot but wanted to, several times, because it’s been SO helpful for me in helping to understand why I love so many of the authors we discussed at Hutchmoot. It’s called _Christian Mythmakers_ by Rolland Hein. He was a prof of mine at Wheaton College when I took a “Modern Mythology” class, and he is amazing. Totally helped me understand the often confusing aspects of George MacDonald in particular. (Dr. Hein is kind of a G-Mac expert.) This book highlights CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, John Bunyan, Charles Williams, George MacDonald, JRR Tolkien, Madeleine L’Engle, and our dear friend Walter Wangerin. 🙂 Highly recommended resource! (Should be carried in the Rabbit Room store, perhaps?)

  5. Laura Peterson

    I said a silent “Hooray!” in my seat during the Story panel when AP mentioned “Byzantium” by Stephen Lawhead. Great epic story. Close to 900 pages and difficult to put down once you get started, I found.

  6. Ron Block


    Leigh, Mind of the Maker is one of my all time favorites.

    Till We Have Faces by CS Lewis.

    The War of Art by Pressfield is a butt kicker.

    Art and Fear by Bayles and Orland goes well with Pressfield’s book.

    If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland. An encouraging little book that thumbs its nose at the naysayers who discourage us. The great country songwriter Alan Shamblin (co-writer of Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me) says that’s his favorite book on writing.

  7. andrew mackay

    I’m an obsessive note taker, and I tried to get down all the book recommendations from the sessions I heard:

    S.D. mentioned:
    Smith of Wooten Major by Tolkien

    Travis Prinzi mentioned:
    The Children of Hurin by Tolkien
    King of Golden River by Ruskin

    Pete Peterson mentioned
    Magnolia (movie, subject to your viewing decisions)
    Godric by Buechner

    Andrew Peterson mentioned:
    Walking on Water – Madeline L’engle
    The War of Art (already in thread)

    Ron Block mentioned:
    The Rest of the Gospel by Stone

    Mentioned in the Story Panel:

    everything by Wendell Berry
    Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
    Punch Drunk Love (Film, subject to your viewing decision)
    The Wrestler (Film, ditto)

    A video interview with Andrew Stanton from Pixar (maybe this one:

  8. Curt McLey


    I recommended Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts to several Rabbitheads. I know AP has read it, and others may be so inclined. It’s in the same general category as Walking on Water from Madeline L’Engle, though maybe not quite as good as WOW.

    I’m reading a nuts and bolts writing recommendation from Pete Peterson right now called On Writing Well by William Knowlton Zinsser. Zinsser has made me blush more than once, as I recognized some of my most ongoing, egregious errors. I’ve always been an obsessive, compulsive editor or my own writing, but this book has made me even more so. I’ve edited my most recent Rabbit Room contribution at least fifty times.

  9. Eric Peters

    Phil W:
    Mr. Jason Gray referenced Buechner’s “Telling the Truth” several times during our Story of Us All session. It is rich.

    So glad you mentioned the audio version of that book. Listening to it still makes me want to yank out non-flowering tulips.

  10. JenniferT

    I have to chime in with the MY NAME IS ASHER LEV praise…one of my favorite books in the whole world, and a must-read for any artist of faith. It’s gut-wrenching and gorgeous.

  11. Janna

    Ron, Did you see the post Hannah (Word Lily) put up recently? It has some good notes from the Wangerin talk. She’s got a link on fb.

  12. S. D. Smith


    I can’t believe no one put “The Bible.”

    Has anyone ever read that? No, you haven’t. Because you’re all bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. Bad. I’ll keep typing. I will. Bad. Bad. Bad.

    Also, Notes From the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson was bandied about by me and others.

    All God’s Children and Blue-Suede Shoes by Ken Myers is excellent, heady.

    How I Got So Cool by Aaron Roughton is instructive, but full of false hope (one cannot be as cool as AR).

    OK, my wish list is lighting up from all these sergestyuns.

    Don’t. Stop.

  13. andrew mackay

    Ron, I have some notes from what he said, but I didn’t really get any book recommendations. The best material were his 5 axioms:

    1. A covenant with perceived reality.

    2. A covenant with my craft and compatriots in the craft

    – for him, necessary to know the literature that precedes him
    – must know the craft
    – must establish relationships with others writing today

    3. Covenant with the community within which I’m writing. You cannot worship your own art so much that it requires others to bow down to it. If I use them, I must not misuse them.

    4. Covenant to tell the truth. I must not lie.

    5. Covenant with the axioms deep inside of me by which I make sense if reality.

    Walt said – my axioms are Christ. If I write true stories, they will be governed by my axioms.

  14. Chris Yokel

    I didn’t go to Hutchmoot, but I will second Sam’s mention of Notes From The Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D. Wilson (who also wrote the fantastic 100 Cupboards trilogy). Fantastic, poetic, beautiful book about story and the Story.

  15. Ron Block


    Janna, can you link me?

    Sam: I was gonna say “The Bible” but I was worried about what other people would think of me.

    Arn Routon’s coolness factor is way too high for a an older balding guy with glasses who plays banjo and drives a Chrysler minivan. I don’t think I could swing it at this point, especially since I used to wear a banjo belt buckle. In doing that I lost all coolness points for eternity. Forgive me, I didn’t know what I was doing to my coolness credit report.

  16. Ron Block


    mr mackay,

    Thanks for the Wangerin’ covenants. I realized as I sat down to listen that I’d left my laptop bag up on the stage/podium/holy preachin’ place. There was no subtle way to walk past Walt and get it.

  17. Mark Timmons

    Three little books that have recently shaped me (…all I have time for these days are little books):

    – Art and the Bible
    by Francis Schaeffer (forward by Michael Card)

    – Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts
    by Philip Graham Ryken

    -Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role That is Yours to Play
    by John Eldredge

  18. Leanore


    Caught up in a discussion of books like this, my husband would say EXACTLY the kind of thing you said. He’d probably even pick the same film – yes, Casablanca counts! – and then go into rhapsodies about who wrote the score.

    Just wanted to let you know that you do indeed have a kindred spirit.

  19. Aaron Alford

    Pfff… I’m GLAD I wasn’t at Hutchmoot. It sounds like it was just… dumb and stuff. I actually didn’t even WANT to go, if you wanna know the truth. I don’t even care that I didn’t go, and I don’t even really think about the fact that I didn’t go. I don’t think about it because it’s not important to me and I’m even glad that I didn’t go. Who wants to spend a bunch of time with writers I like… and musicians that, you know, I don’t even… I’m just glad I didn’t go. It was just better that I didn’t, and I don’t dwell on not going. I only would have went *ironically* anyway, you know, just to make fun of people like Andrew Peterson and Pete Peterson and Ron Block and whatever other Petersons were there. They probably would have been really intimidated by me anyway, truth be told.

    I’m just glad I didn’t… go.


  20. Laura Barton

    Has anyone read Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre? I didn’t mention it at the ‘Moot, but it’s definitely the sort of book you all would like! A gracious and compassionate account of what has happened to language in our culture and what we can and should do to be better stewards of it.

  21. RG

    I think I remember talking to S.D. about Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. And S.D. may have encouraged me to look into the other works about Oz by L. Frank Baum. Though, it might have all been a dream.

  22. Stephen

    Laura Barton, that book was mentioned by a friend at another conference I was at (the reason I couldn’t be at Hutchmoot) and I just ordered it yesterday from Amazon. I can’t wait to read it.

  23. Laura Peterson

    Thomas – ah yes, thanks for the reminder. I have a free night tonight and will (finally) be sitting down to watch Casablanca. Phew.

  24. Jonathan Rogers

    SD Smith recommended the Twilight Series. “Made me think about teen vampires in a whole new way,” he said.

    Aaron Roughton recommended “The God Who Owes You.”

    Ron Block–well, I’m still rethinking every recommendation he ever made after learning that he had a banjo belt buckle.

  25. Aaron Roughton

    I am glad I check all these comments. Who knew my good name was being trampled on so carelessly with these ridiculous recommendations that I allegedly made. No, no. I have some recommendations, but they’re legitimate.

    “Community is for Suckas” By Napoleon “Little T-Bone” Bonaparte

    “Story Schmory. Try Special Effects.” By Michael Bay

    “The Story of One Of Us Is The Story of Me. Just Me.” By Kanye West

    “Why Cool Doesn’t Matter. The Story of How Allison Krauss Digs Banjo Belt Buckles.” By Ron Block

  26. Aaron Roughton

    Ok, now not joking. I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but as a primer on the basic elements of living in Christian community I would recommend Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s an easy read. In other words, not typical Bonhoeffer.

  27. Pracades

    My go-to reference book for nuts & bolts writing is The Elements of Style by E.B. White and William Strunk.

  28. Matt Conner

    Whoever brought up Strunk and White’s book Elements of Style is dead on. As is On Writing Well. Wow. Those two are the core essentials for me in terms of general writing. I need to reread them actually.

  29. S.D. Smith

    Jonathan Rogers said he likes, like, a dumb book. He said it. It was like, “How I’m Stoopid,” and stuff and it’s totally his favorite. He reads it every day. He has it mamoorized, it is rumoured.

  30. I. Ray Schikuns

    This list makes me happy. Who are you people, and why have I lived so much of my life not knowing you? Is this a real place, or just virtual heaven on earth?

  31. I. Ray Schikuns

    Also, I didn’t see these on the list:

    _Art Needs No Justification_ (available online), by H. Rookmaaker
    “Letter to a Christian Artist”, by H. Rookmaaker

  32. I. Ray Schikuns

    The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, by Lewis Hyde

    Dealing with the gift-nature of art. I don’t land where Hyde does on a lot of issues. But this is still thinky and interesting, and might evoke some good discussion.

  33. Laura Peterson

    At some point in the weekend, someone mentioned a talk or YouTube lecture or something like that, given by somebody at Pixar, and how great it was in dealing with some of the elements of Story. Or something excellent like that. 🙂 Can anyone help me out in finding whatever this was? I think putting a link in the Rabbit Room was mentioned, but if there is one I haven’t seen it yet….Thanks!

  34. kelli

    I was just looking through my notes from Walt Wangerin’s talk, and I thought I’d share them here…(it will be a bit scattered!!)

    Fantasy and fairy tales name the ideas children have.

    Art is composed experience. Artists put things into an order, and it becomes art when it is experienced by another. Art seeks the reader. ARt is received by thte reader as his intense experience.

    When there is a beginning, middle and ending…you have a story.

    There are not details that are not important (like fole tales passed down through the ages).

    When art is good, it creates its own time and space.

    Enter the story as if it is a house. When art works, it becomes the place where the audience lives for awhile.

    Artists are shapers. We shape things…as the child is shaped by the fairy tale.

    Artists come upon the mess of life and bring an order upon it. A heaper into heaps, a piler into piles.

    We tell the old, old story over and over again, but we introduce that story in Now.

    ARt can be dangerous. And it can destroy.

    5 covenants…

    1. A covenant with perceived reality

    …I can’t force something on the page which people don’t find in their lives.
    …Writers must have times apart (even in the midst of things…the third eye must watch.)

    2. A covenant wit the craft

    …know the literature that precedes me and establish a relationship with others doing it today
    …Art must know the tradition that came before.
    …Know the righteousness of the language.

    3. A covenant with the community

    …Someone can worship his art form so much that he demands others bow down to it.
    …Do not misuse them.

    4. A covenant to not lie.

    …I must not lie.
    …We must always draw from that was before. (“If we try to create something out of nothing…we create monsters…” c.s. lewis)
    …We can name things. The thing named is brought from where it was to where it can be known.
    …Naming establishes relationship with everything.
    …Naming begins to declare the purpose of that thing.
    …We must be so watchful. What if we name someone a name that is not theirs? …we lie.

    5. A covenant with who I am

    …I am an author who is a Christian…not a Christian author.
    …My stories flow out of who I am.

    We weave a world around those that have no shape, no name, no world.

  35. Jon Slone

    Second best book ever written has got to be, “Riggleberry Bloke and other silly whatknots!” Its Dr. Seuss meets Jesus Christ on the road to the place where the GoodGrapes live!

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